Progressive Delight

As I've written before, the 4 factors in design are: Time, Technique, Taste, and Tools.  While these are the constituents of its application, they do not constitute criteria for success.  A successful design is one that inspires many things, but foremost in my mind for web is "Delight".

Delight is that moment where the user smiles, inside or out, because something happened that surprised them in a good way.  It could be positive discovery or an aesthetic touch in the right place.  The most basic tools for adding delight, downright prerequisite at this point in Web 2.0, is to harness effects from libraries like jQuery in your pages to bring life.  More advanced effects like complex JavaScript-based animations, provided by libraries like Spritely, take it to the next level.  

To approach it from a Technique perspective, like to use the phrase "Progressive Delight" (PD). PD would be simply offering feedback using a colorful or artistic means, instead of simply informative or bland means.  The radical example is Jim Carrey's personal website, which is like a maze of delight that becomes more and more enaging the further you delve.  My more practical fallback example would be the pricing page for Heroku, which offers delightful splashes of art in exchange for choosing your database tier, instead of mundane checkboxes.  The fundamental goal should be to move the user from an enticement to an enjoyrable experience, harnessing purposeful intermediate steps that each feel like their own discovery.  This will make feedback a little journey and hopefully a delightful one.